As John Prados says in his excellent introduction: `in country after country, Gladio influenced, violently or not, political processes through fear and terrorism. Police and security services protected perpetrated crimes and antidemocratic `state sponsors' created terrorist networks.'
It was everything except a benign game of play. In Italy alone, the strategy of tension was responsible between 1969 and 1987, for 14591 (not less) acts of violence with political motivation. There and elsewhere, bombs exploded in Bologna, Munich and Istanbul leaving hundreds of dead and crippled.
Other dirty `tricks' were torture, coup d'états, election fraud, assassinations, disinformation, provocation and false flag operations. In one word, a destructive spiral of violence.
This warfare planning group was linked to NATO, the Pentagon and the CIA and operated completely outside democratic control from the nationally elected legislators. It made a joke of national sovereignty.
These secret soldiers were trained on remote islands in the Mediterranean and in unorthodox warfare centres in England and in the United States by the Green Berets and SAS Special Forces. The network was armed with explosives, machine guns and high-tech communication equipment hidden in underground bunkers and secret arms caches in forests and mountain meadows. In some countries the secret army linked up with right-wing terrorist who in a secret war engaged in political manipulation, harrassement of left wing parties, massacres, coup d'états and torture.
Codenamed 'Gladio' ('the sword'), the Italian secret army was exposed in 1990 by Italian Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti to the Italian Senate, whereupon the press spoke of "The best kept, and most damaging, political-military secret since World War II" (Observer, 18. November 1990) and observed that "The story seems straight from the pages of a political thriller." (The Times, November 19, 1990). Ever since, so-called 'stay-behind' armies of NATO have also been discovered in France, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxemburg, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Switzerland, Austria, Greece and Turkey. They were internationally coordinated by the Pentagon and NATO and had their last known meeting in the NATO-linked Allied Clandestine Committee (ACC) in Brussels in October 1990.